Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Top Ten Myths About Iraq in 2005

Juan Cole gives us what he believes are the 10 most prevalent myths about Iraq -- and surprise! They are not all conservative myths. Here they are, in abbreviated form:

1. The guerrilla war is being waged only in four provinces.

2. Iraqi Sunnis voting in the December 15 election is a sign that they are being drawn into the political process and might give up the armed insurgency.

3. The guerrillas are winning the war against US forces.

4. Iraqis are grateful for the US presence and want US forces there to help them build their country.

5. Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, born in Iran in 1930, is close to the Iranian regime in Tehran.

6. There is a silent majority of middle class, secular-minded Iraqis who reject religious fundamentalism.

7. The new Iraqi constitution is a victory for Western, liberal values in the Middle East.

8. Iraq is already in a civil war, so it does not matter if the US simply withdraws precipitately, since the situation is as bad as it can get.

9. The US can buy off the Iraqis now supporting guerrilla action against US troops.

10. The Bush administration wanted free elections in Iraq.

I find the third myth especially interesting. Prof. Cole says, "...this level of insurgency could never defeat the U.S. military in the field." But he does not say whether the opposite could happen -- that the U.S. military could effectively defeat and end the insurgency. His word choice implies (to me, at least) that if the U.S. is defeated, it will be in the political, not the military, arena.

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